October 2013

California’s sandy beaches, towering redwoods, rolling hills, world-renowned wineries and rugged coastal cliffs make it one of the most scenic –and romantic — destinations anywhere. And many of its hotels and resorts were designed with couples in mind, capitalizing on lovely views and tranquil atmospheres. Our top picks are truly special, intimate retreats with one-of-a-kind settings.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley Vineyard Romance Spa Treatment at Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley

This 57-room rustic-luxe retreat in Carmel Valley sits in a lovely setting among rolling hills and vineyards. Details such as vaulted beamed ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, and country-inspired decor help create an atmosphere that is homey and cozy. Rooms are large and comfortable with stone fireplaces, feather beds, and plush white bedding, and big bathrooms feature walk-in showers and two-person soaking tubs. Appealing amenities include an outdoor pool, pool bar, and inviting spa where wine-based treatments are available. It’s a sophisticated, romantic spot in Carmel Valley. Read More »

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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is truly a sight to behold — so it’s no wonder that visitors flock to see it’s fabulous floats. But jostling for a view while braving the chilly November weather is hardly the ideal way to enjoy the spectacle. That’s why hotels along the route are offering packages to allow visitors to watch from the comfort of a hotel room, restaurant, or event space — for a price, of course. If these premium prices aren’t in the budget, many of these hotels are offering rooms without a view for more reasonable rates — so if you are going to brave the crowds on the street, at least you won’t have to travel far. Take a look at which lucky hotels are offering prime locales and views!

Mandarin Oriental, New York City

Mandarin Oriental, New York City Mandarin Oriental, New York City

The Mandarin Oriental is the best choice in the city for luxury travelers who want to celebrate Thanksgiving in style. Premier Central Park View rooms and suites on the 43rd to 54th floors have superb parade views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and guests who book the I Love A Parade package can watch from the 6,000-square-foot ballroom. Read More »

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Forget the haunted house. Those looking for a ghostly encounter this Halloween can get up close and personal with departed spirits in the luxury of a hotel room. Because who says you shouldn’t have room service while you’re feeling spooked? These hotels across the country allegedly have some very active poltergeist activity – so prepare for some chills and thrills on your next overnight stay.

The Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed at a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980′s as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed. Read More »

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The relaxed, tranquil environment of this adults-only boutique resort is a major part of its appeal. This isn’t Antigua’s fanciest property, but it doesn’t need to be: Simple Caribbean style (think: thatched roofs, stone, and rattan), a truly gorgeous beach, and all-inclusive food that’s better than average for the island make for a winning combo. Water sports are also included in the rate, but the ocean here can get a bit rough so guests shouldn’t count on being able to swim in it every day. The 40-acre property is set on a stunning three-quarter-mile long beach on Antigua’s northeastern shore, about a 10-minute drive from St. John’s.

Beach at the Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua Beach at the Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Antigua

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If you’re planning a trip to the Aloha State and have the budget to splurge, we’ve got you covered. These nine hotels are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and utterly decadent, from the elegant rooms to the tasty restaurants to the impressive pools.

St. Regis Princeville, Hawaii

St. Regis Princeville, Kauai St. Regis Princeville, Kauai

The 251-room St. Regis Princeville is considered by many to be the premier luxury option in Hawaii, and given the stunning setting overlooking Hanalei Bay, it’s hard to disagree. Guests can expect warm, sophisticated decor, suites with personal butler service, world-class golf, and a memorable breakfast buffet on a terrace with gorgeous ocean views. The discerning clientele this resort attracts will find little to fault, though if one had to nitpick, the formal dress code might not appeal to everyone, and food prices — as one might expect at this caliber of property — are steep. The location on Kauai’s lush, ruggedly beautiful northern coast makes for natural beauty that’s unparalleled, but rain is more frequent here and the beach, though lovely, doesn’t have the finest sand. Read More »

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Fall is prime time for visiting a New England B&B. And lovers of bed and breakfasts know that the breakfast is just as crucial as the bed. It’s half of the experience, after all! Some breakfasts are far, far superior to others, so we’ve selected five of our favorite spreads. Get ready to chow down on your next weekend escape.

Union Street Inn, Nantucket

Union Street Inn, Nantucket

Union Street Inn, Nantucket

This charming, elegant B&B advertises itself as the only inn on the island to offer a full, hot breakfast (available thanks to its commercial kitchen). Every morning guests can choose between a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, plate of fruits and artisan breads, or the daily hot entree. There are also homemade baked goods offered each afternoon. Read More »

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Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Formerly the palace of an Ottoman Sultan, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski is the grand dame of Istanbul. It wows guests at every turn, from the sprawling, manicured grounds, to the heated infinity pool right on the Bosphorus, to the refined suites. The dining options are extensive and exceptional; the spa is lovely; and the meeting space housed in the original palace building makes an ornate setting for a business function or wedding. It’s arguably the city’s top luxury option, but it’s far from the popular tourist sights in Sultanahmet. Read More »

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When many of us dream of the beach, we’re not just dreaming of fine white sand and clear blue waters. (Well, sure, we are dreaming about that part quite a bit.) But we’re also imagining thatched roof bars, decks with hammocks, and rooms with lots of wood or stone. Resorts that blend modern luxuries with a rustic vibe help set just the right tone for relaxation and serenity. Take a look at our faves.

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free. For a tranquil, unplugged getaway, this is one of Nicaragua’s premier options — just note that there’s no common pool (yet) and the climb from the beach to reception is extremely long and steep. Read More »

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The 23-room Hotel Mathis is an upscale boutique property in the 8th arrondissement, within walking distance of designer shops and the Arc de Triomphe. The attractive, Art Deco-inspired decor is particularly impressive in the cozy breakfast room, which has crystal chandeliers, rich blue banquet seating, and crown moldings, as well as in the bar, which has plush red couches. Most rooms have a toned-down version of this look (antique-like lamps, rich curtains, prettily patterned desk chairs), but some have modern elements that contribute to a more eclectic feel. All have flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s charm and level of luxury are comparable to the Hotel Daniel’s, but prices are often better here (though they’re still not cheap).

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

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Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

There’s a lot to love about Ireland. The lush green landscape, the charming small-town pubs (serving up plenty of Guinness, of course), the sheep that can be found roaming the hills, and the narrow winding roads. And now that St. Patty’s Day is nearly here, we’re dreaming about all things Irish — specifically, about all of our favorite things to see on the Emerald Isle, from the Ring of Kerry to Kylemore Abbey to the Giant’s Causeway. These 10 attractions are must-sees for any lover of Ireland — even if you’re only able to visit them through your computer screen.

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